United States District Court, D. Maryland
J. MESSITTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Gibson, Sr. has filed a Motion to Reduce Sentence pursuant to
18 U.S.C. § 3582(c), citing Amendment 782 to the U.S.
Sentencing Guidelines and U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(d). ECF No.
1373. The Court has considered the Motion and the
Government's Opposition. For the reasons described below,
the Court DENIES the Motion.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
April 15, 1996, Gibson was found guilty of conspiracy to
distribute and possess heroin and cocaine, in violation of 21
U.S.C. § 846. The Court determined his final Offense
Level under the Sentencing Guidelines was 38 and his criminal
history Category IV. ECF No. 1375. Gibson received a
mandatory life sentence pursuant to 21 U.S.C. §
April 7, 1999, the Fourth Circuit affirmed Gibson's
sentence. ECF No. 849. On October 2, 2000, the Supreme Court
granted certiorari, vacated the judgment, and remanded the
case to the Fourth Circuit in light of Apprendi v. New
Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), which held that a jury had
to find all facts relied on by a judge in imposing a
sentencing enhancement. Gibson v. U.S., 531 U.S. 801
(2000). On remand, the Fourth Circuit affirmed Gibson's
conviction, but vacated his life sentence and remanded the
case to this Court with instructions to sentence Gibson to a
term of imprisonment not to exceed the thirty-year statutory
maximum under 21 U.S.C. § 841 (b)(1)(C). U.S. v.
Gibson, 18 F. App'x 85, 88 (4th Cir. 2001).
November 25, 2002 at resentencing, the Court reimposed a
mandatory life sentence under post-Apprendi Fourth
Circuit precedent, which authorized a mandatory life sentence
without submitting the drug quantity to the jury because the
evidence of the quantity was “overwhelming and
essentially uncontroverted.” U.S. v. Cotton,
535 U.S. 625, 633 (2002). ECF No. 1029 at 82, 111-12.
February 17, 2004, the Fourth Circuit affirmed this life
sentence. ECF No. 1375 at 2. On August 3, 2016, President
Barack Obama commuted Gibson's life sentence to 360
months' imprisonment. ECF No. 1371. Gibson now moves the
Court to further reduce his sentence from 360 months to 324
months in accordance with 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c), pursuant
to Amendment 782 to U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1. ECF No. 1373.
argues that he was not sentenced pursuant to a statutory
mandatory minimum during his resentencing. He instead claims
that the Court used its discretion to sentence him to life
imprisonment under the Sentencing Guidelines. He claims he is
eligible for a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. §
3582, because Amendment 782 reduced the Advisory
Guidelines' base level of certain drug offenses two
levels, including those with which he was charged. With a
reduction, his final offense level would reduce from 34 to
32, which would make the applicable Guideline range 324 to
EFFECT OF COMMUTATION
Obama's commutation of Gibson's sentence is an
executive action that does not affect Gibson's
eligibility for 18 U.S.C. § 3583 relief. Cf. Ohio
Adult Parole Auth. V. Woodard, 523 U.S. 272, 284 (1998)
(“Clemency proceedings . . . [are] independent of . . .
collateral relief proceedings.”). Additionally,
President Obama's commutation did not moot Gibson's
pending petition. See Robinson v. U.S., 526 F.2d
1145, 1147 (1st Cir. 1975). A petitioner's claim becomes
moot if a “case-or-controversy” is no longer
presented. Spencer v. Kemna, 523 U.S. 1, 7 (1998). A
case-or-controversy ceases to exist if a petitioner does not
continue to have a “personal stake in the
outcome” of the lawsuit. Id. (quoting
Lewis v. Continental Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 472,
477-78 (1990). However, “[a]n incarcerated
convict's . . . challenge to the validity of his
conviction always satisfies the case-or-controversy
requirement, because the incarceration constitutes a concrete
injury, caused by the conviction and redressable by
invalidation of conviction.” Spencer v. Kemna,
523 U.S. at 7. Moreover, “[a petitioner's]
conviction may be considered at sentencing in any subsequent
criminal proceeding, Carlesi v. N.Y., 233 U.S. 51,
58 (1914), and may result in heavier penalties, U.S. v.
Morgan, 346 U.S. 502, 512-13 (1954), or may be
introduced to impeach credibility.” Robinson v.
U.S., 526 F.2d 1145, 1147 (1st Cir. 1975). Therefore,
President Obama's commutation does not affect
Gibson's eligibility for relief under 18 U.S.C. §
18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), a defendant may file a motion
asking the court to reduce his sentence if the Sentencing
Commission has subsequently altered the Guideline under which
he was sentenced. “The Court may reduce the
defendant's term of imprisonment ‘after considering
the factors set forth in § 3553(a) to the extent that
they are applicable, if such a reduction is consistent with
the applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing
Commission.'” U.S. v. Davis, 2016 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 104329, at *3 (D. Md., Aug. 8, 2016). However,
the Sentencing Commission's policy statement provides
that a sentence reduction under § 3582(c)(2) “is
not authorized” if the amendment to the Sentencing
Guidelines “does not have the effect of lowering the
defendant's applicable guideline range.” U.S.S.G.
§ 1B1.10(a)(2)(B). See U.S. v. Hood, 556 F.3d
226, 232 (4th Cir. 2009). In this case, “the amendment
does not have the effect of lowering the defendant's
applicable guideline range because of the operation of
another guideline or statutory provision (e.g., a statutory
mandatory minimum term of imprisonment).” U.S.S.G.
§ 1B1.10 cmt n. 1(A). Further, Amendment 782 does not
lower a mandatory minimum sentence “unless the court
originally had the authority to sentence the defendant below
the mandatory minimum based on his substantial assistance to
authorities.” U.S. v. Speight, 2015 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 150566, at *3-4 (D. Md. Nov. 3, 2015).
Court resentenced Gibson to a statutory mandatory minimum
term of life imprisonment in accordance to 21 U.S.C. §
841(b)(1)(A)(i). U.S. v. Cotton, 535 U.S. 625, 633
(2002). As the Court stated at resentencing, “it does
appear that . . . there was at least one kilogram or more of
heroin that was found in this case and within the meaning of
841(b)(1)(A)(i).” ECF No. 1029 at 82. Gibson's
criminal history included two prior felony convictions, which
triggered the mandatory life sentence under 21 U.S.C. ...